KRASNODAR, Russia (Reuters) - Mix Diskerud scored deep into stoppage time as the United States twice fought back to hold Russia to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday in the first match between the two former Cold War adversaries since 2000.
Debutant Fyodor Smolov put the home team 1-0 up in the ninth minute of the friendly before Michael Bradley leveled with a spectacular volley in the 76th as the Americans improved after a disappointing first half show in the southern city of Krasnodar.
Roman Shirokov restored Russia’s advantage with an 84th-minute penalty and it seemed they would extend their winning streak to five games under Italian coach Fabio Capello.
Substitute Diskerud’s low shot then took a lucky bounce and fooled keeper Vladimir Gabulov four minutes into stoppage time.
The Americans were tentative early on and the hosts took full advantage, Smolov beating keeper Tim Howard with a low drive into the corner of the net.
Smolov’s joy was short-lived though as he pulled a leg muscle and had to be substituted.
The U.S., who also lost skipper Carlos Bocanegra to injury early in the first half, had trouble holding on to the ball.
Clarence Goodson, who replaced Bocanegra, produced the first shot for the visitors after nearly half an hour but it was easily saved by Gabulov.
Russia increased the tempo after the break as Alan Dzagoyev went close with a header and fellow substitute Renat Yanbayev fired straight at Howard from close range.
Capello introduced several newcomers including winger Denis Cheryshev who plays for Real Madrid’s B team Castilla and has yet to feature for Jose Mourinho’s side while U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann gave a debut to midfielder Joshua Gatt who plays for Norwegian champions Molde.
The Americans slowly started to find their rhythm and Bradley controlled Jozy Altidore’s header before blasting the ball in from the edge of the box.
Shirokov then made it 2-1 to Russia only for Diskerud to save the day for the U.S. when his shot took a deflection, bounced over the keeper, hit the post and went in.
It was a fitting end to a good year for the Americans who beat Italy 1-0 in Genoa in February, outclassed Scotland 5-1 in another friendly in May and earned their first away win over Mexico by a 1-0 margin at the intimidating Azteca stadium in August.
The teams last met in a friendly in Moscow 12 years ago won 2-0 by Russia.
Writing by Gennady Fyodorov; editing by Tony Jimenez